Monday, September 16, 2013

Reporting, Opinion, and Al Jazeera

There's a neat Pew analysis out of how Al Jazeera America differed -- or actually didn't -- from the other cable news outlets in how it covered Syria, the first major story since the network premiered. The other outlets are BBC America, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

Mostly, Al Jazeera looks a lot like the other networks. One columnist made a big deal of this in USAToday but he misses the point, that on a huge story like this there are only so many ways you can report it, that where Al Jazeera tends to not look like its cable brethren is in its other stories. Fewer talking head programs, less partisan hackery. Give him points for stating the obvious, lifted from the Pew report, but no points for nuance and journalistic understanding.

You can even see a neat breakdown of reporting vs. opinion on the networks (it's the final graf of the study, reproduced below).

This is telling. CNN continues to dominate when it comes to reported news and Fox tends to come in last in the same category, or perhaps a statistical tie with MSNBC, but if so it's not by much. To say Al Jazeera looks like the rest is kinda missing yet another point. In the reported vs. opinion category, it actually does not look like CNN, and it is positioned to out-CNN CNN. That's the lede.

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